Three Cups of the Lord

 The Blessings of Being Under the Blood

 “In the hand of the Lord is a cup full of foaming wine mixed with spices; He pours it out, and all the wicked of the earth drink it down to its very dregs.  As for me, I will sing praise to the God of Jacob.  (Psalms 75:8-9)  All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.  For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.  And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.  For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John. 6:37-40)

Our Righteousness Is In Christ Alone

          Today’s passage of Scripture is set in a Psalm that has the characteristics of a Hymn of Thanksgiving.  Several passages of Scripture in Psalm 74 were prayers of Asaph.  This particular song of Asaph, Psalm 75 is a song of deliverance, of triumph and a Psalm of faith.  It is a song for the saints and a Hymn that proclaims the wonderful deeds of God. The opening verse of Psalm 75 says, “We give thanks to you, O God, we give thanks, for your Name is near; men tell of your wonderful deeds.” (Psalm 75:1) I would propose to you that the blessings of being under the blood of Christ are many.  By coming under His blood we are found righteous.  His bloodshed paved the way for us to miss the wrath of God, purchased our salvation, and enables us to enjoy the blessings of God.

The Bible tells us to partake in the Lord’s Supper, “Communion,”  For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” (1 Corinthians. 11:16) Biblically this is one very good way of showing our appreciation through obedience to the Word and telling others who observe us of Jesus’ sacrificial death upon the Cross.

The Word “Cup” Is Often Used In the Bible

The word “cup” is often used figuratively in the Bible for that which is portioned out and of which one is to partake.  Thus, it can mean God’s Judgments, His wrath or afflictions. (Psalms 11:6; 75:8; Revelations 14:10)     Jesus used this term regarding His sufferings.  (Matthew 26:39)  He also used the term cup in reference to what some of his saints would suffer. (Matthew 20:22) In the Old Testament the cup had also been applied to the blessedness and joy of the children of God, and the full provision made for their needs. (Psalms 16:5; 23:5; 116:13)

Dr. Dewight Jones claims there are some 32 cups mentioned in the Word of God.  I would like for us consider three of them today.  1.) The Cup of Wrath,  2.) The Cup of Salvation, and 3.) The Cup of Blessing. Just what are the blessings of being under the blood of Christ? Just what are the wonderful deeds done by Christ out of love for His Father and for us? Before we can fully enjoy those blessings we must remember just what the blood of Christ redeemed us from.  Just what was the source that caused Jesus Christ to willfully lay down His life? 

The Cup Of Wrath

There is a “cup of wrath” and we must recognize this truth as we come and take communion together as a Body of Christ.  The beloved John gives us this insight, Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.” (John 3:36)“Wrath” (orge) here is “referring to divine judgment to be inflicted upon the unrighteous.” This wrath of God is not an uncontrolled, unthinking, or a violent reaction.  It is a deep, sometimes permanent, thoughtful, controlled righteous anger that is good and deals justly with all who reject Christ.

This anger of God is aroused for several reasons.  1.) Romans 2:5 says “But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.”  Unsaved people allow their hearts to become hardened and unrepentant.  Thus they spurn God’s love – rejecting His truths.  2 Thessalonians 1:8-9 tells us He will punish those who do not… obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.   They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord.”

2.) Romans 1:18 says The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness…”  Paul’s epistle also tells us that, “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to Him…” (Romans 1:21)  Those who under the wrath of God, have by choice chosen to transgress God’s law.

3.) Ephesians 5:6 says Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.”  God’s wrath (orge) here is a “decisive anger, a deliberate anger that arises from His very nature of holiness.”  This wrath is on the “disobedient” (apeitheia) — those unbelievers who willfully walk in unbelief and are not persuadable.  They have an obstinate rejection of the will of God for their lives.  They live in defiance.

The Book of Ephesians also tells us this, “For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person… has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.”  (Ephesians. 5:6)  Ephesians 5:7 says clearly “Therefore do not be partners with them.” 

God Is Holy And Righteous

God’s wrath is clear and active.  He is holy, righteous and pure as well as loving, gracious and merciful.  He executes justice as well as love. He shows wrath and anger as well as compassion.  His wrath is both present and future. Romans 1:18 tells us clearly that God’s wrath is present and active in this life.  Our introductory Scripture to this first division of the message was John 3:36 and it is best translated in the New American Standard Bible as “…the wrath of God abides on him.”….    In its proper context “the wrath of God ‘abides’ (meno) means to continue to live in, or rather sin remains upon.  More accurately, they remain in their sin.

God punishes the disobedient in this life most often by giving them over to uncleanness, to vile affections, to a reprobate mind.  Romans 1:24 says Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts…”  Romans 1:28 says, Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind to do what ought not to be done.”….    These two truths are set after the introductory verse Romans 1:18, The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness…”

People who are under this cup from God are like the burglar Walter B. Knight wrote about. They know it’s wrong but they are bound by their sin, needing to be set free by Christ.  In Saint Paul, Minnesota, a thief broke into a U.S.O. and stole $23.50.  He left a note to Mrs. Margaret Wood, the director, which read, “I am sorry I stole this.  There is a day when I will pay for my sin!”  I remember before I came to Christ, there were sins I would commit.  I hated it when I did it, but I was bound to it.

The Cup Of Salvation

There is an indisputable fact. There is a judicial judgment of God here and now as well for the future.  There is a cup of wrath for those who choose not surrender to the Lordship of Christ.   Another Biblical fact is that the Lord has a “Cup of Salvation.”

Psalm 116:13 says I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD.”    The opening verse to Psalm 116 says, I love the LORD, for he heard my voice;   he heard my cry for mercy.”(v.1) Many have placed Psalm 116 right up there with Psalm 23 and it appears to be in with a series of psalms that have a special place in the Passover liturgy.  It seems to be fourth in what some call a Paschal Hallel {halal}, meaning praise, which was sung or read on Passover Day.  It appears to some that Psalms 113-114 were read or sung before the meal and Psalms 115-118 were read or sung after the festive meal.  Several believe these psalms were sung by the Lord and the disciples on the night of the betrayal (Matthew 26:30) just before their departure for the Mt. of Olives. Something else must be noted about Psalm 116.  It has all the appearance of being a personal song, in which the believing soul may be reminded of God’s love and power to deliver the man that calls upon the Name of the Lord.     Therefore, to fully enjoy the communion service one must personally be worshiping the Lord in spirit and truth.

We do not know for sure who wrote this psalm, but we know that he fully understood that the “…Lord [had] delivered [his] soul from death, [his] eyes from tears and [his] feet from stumbling…”  This appreciative believer wrote How can I repay the LORD for all his goodness to me?  I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD.  I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all His people”. (Psalm 116:12-14)

Examination Before Communion

The illuminated child of God knows who delivered his soul from eternal damnation, he knows who sees his tears and can keep his feet from slipping.  That is why he takes time to examine himself before partaking in Communion.  He ask the probing question, “Am I living in a way that is worthy of the gospel I claim before my Lord and in the eyes of others?”  The born again Christian has the same assurance in his heart as the writer of Psalms 116.  Being under the precious blood of Christ brings salvation and this salvation has purchased much for the child of God.

1.) Salvation brings assurance.  Jesus says “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.  For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.  And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.  For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John. 6:37-40)

As Adoniram Judson lay in a nasty Burmese jail with thirty-two pounds of chains on his ankles and his feet tied to a bamboo pole, one sneering prison mate asked, “What is the prospect of converting the heathen?’’  Instantly Judson replied, “The prospects are just as bright as the unfailing promises of the never failing God.” You may never be put into prison, however, there will be times in your life that you will question God’s willingness to intervene, and maybe even your salvation.  Christ’s blood purchased you and that is all you need to stand upon.

2.) Salvation brings joy.  I will clothe her priests with salvation, and her saints will ever sing for joy.” (Psalm 132:16) The salvation of the saints should be as evident as one having on a garment.  Time after time I have met a new born again Christian and the Lord has put such a joy in him that he overflows with joy.  The New American Standard Bible says “…And her godly ones will sing aloud for joy.”  The King James Bible says, “…Her saints shall shout aloud for joy.”

In a book entitled, “The Pioneers, A Narrative of the Bengal Mission,” a pioneer missionary wrote (G. Gogerly), “It would astonish and amuse the European stranger to hear these natives sing. They have not the least idea of either harmony or melody; noise is what they best understand.”  A visitor once visited the Bengal Mission and made the comment “Sing softly, brothers.”  The missionary’s response was, “When these Christians were Hindoos, they threw their heads back and shouted praises to their gods, who are no gods.  No, sir, they cannot do less for the Lord Jesus.”  And they continued to sing with all their might to their Lord.

3.) Salvation brings seasons of refreshing….   Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord…”   Another translation says, “…in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.”  Observing the Lord’s table with a right heart, focus off of self and through a breaking away from traditionalism will open the door of the heart to genuinely observe Communion.

4.) Salvation changes masters….    But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” (Romans 6:17-18)   The Blessedness of being under the blood is that Christ paid the price for us to be set free from the old slave master, “the flesh.”  A new ruler resides in the throne room of our hearts.  Through the enabling of the Holy Spirit we can obey Christ now whereas before our Salvation it was impossible.

5.) Salvation gives one an abundant life.  Jesus said, “…I came that they might have life and might have it abundantly.”  (John 10:10 NAS)  This is one of the grandest of our Lord’s claims.  “Abundantly” (perissos) means in superabundance, more than enough.  Christians have all they need according to God’s will for full service unto Him, provision and all that is needed for communion with God, Christ and fellowship in the Holy Spirit.  On this truth life begins, is sustained, and matured.

6.) Salvation sets one apart unto God.  But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the [sanctification] by the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through our gospel that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Thessalonians 2:13)    All born again Christians have been chosen by God for a specific purpose and they are not being changed through their own efforts, but through surrender to the Holy Spirit of God. “Sanctification” (hagiasmos) in its practical application refers to separation unto God… produced by the Holy Spirit.” What a wonderful thing.  Being under the blood of Christ enables Christians to have the highest position in all the world, being God’s holy and beloved children set aside for his works.

7.) Salvation saves one to the utmost and puts the child of God under the continual intervention of Christ before God.  Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” (Hebrews 7:25)   The verb “to save” (sozo) is used absolutely, which means that Christ will save in the most comprehensive sense; He saves from all bondage that humanity may have gotten themselves into.  Christ’s salvation is complete deliverance, no matter what the need of the sinner.  This is available to all who will approach God in the name and under the authority or rather the Lordship of Christ.

Growing In Christ

Many a Christian has experienced a tremendous cleansing when they received Christ.   However, they know as they walk in step with the Holy Spirit, there is a continued purifying process going on within them.  The apostle Paul’s inspiration to the saints in Philippi was, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion…” (Philippians1:6)

Our Lord conducts our cause and purpose in heaven as our Advocate.  Even though He is enthroned in Heaven, He has yet power upon earth.  He and God send the Holy Spirit down to indwell, guide and empower us.  This gift is given to us because of Jesus’ sacrifice and through His intersession.  While Christ intercedes for us in heaven, the Holy Spirit intercedes within us.  The Holy Spirit works within our minds and hearts and bestows all the grace God wants to give us.  As a child of God you are given the cup of salvation that saves you from the bondage of sin and enables you to live a satisfied pleasing life to the Lord.

The Cup Of Blessing

There is a wonderful cup of salvation and there is “The Cup of Blessing.”  Psalm 16:5 says, “The Lord is the portion of my inheritance and my cup…”    What a wonderful blessing, the Lord is the child of God’s inheritance.  “The Golden Psalm” has often been given as the title of Psalm 16.  Ainsworth called it “David’s Jewel, or Noble Song.” It is one thing to give lip service to the Lord.  However, a cry from the soul that says “Thou are my Lord” especially in times of trial is evidence of spiritual maturity and understanding of what it means to be under the covering of the blood of Christ.

The illuminated child of God approaches Communion, saying, “Let me have the love and favor of God and be accepted of Him.  Let me enjoy the comfort of communion with the Lord and the satisfaction of understanding His graces and sustaining love.  Just let me be captivated by His promise of eternal life and rest in my eternal state.  What else is there to desire, what more can a man achieve and what surpasses the blessing of being under the blood of Christ?” The heart of the man who wrote that Paschal Hallelujah Psalm, should be the heart of everyone wanting to participate in Communion.  The Psalmist writes, “How can I repay the Lord for all His goodness to me?…” (Psalm. 116: 12) “. . .This Do In Remembrance Of Me.” In remembering the precious blood of Christ, Jesus says we are to partake of Communion in remembrance of Him.  The Holy Spirit of God moved the apostle Paul to write, Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.  A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup.” (1 Corinthians 11:27-28)

The apostle Paul, in warning the Corinthians about participating in idolatry feast and about the true purpose of the Lord’s Supper wrote this, Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ?”…. (1 Corinthians 10:16) The truth Paul wanted to relay to the Corinthians was that a man who sat at the table of Jesus Christ cannot go on to sit at the table which is the instrument of wickedness.  If a man has eaten in remembrance of the Body and drunk in remembrance of the Blood of Christ he cannot touch with heart a life of wickedness.

The Sin Of Idolatry

There was a great statue that was done of Christ by Thorwaldsen.   After Thorwaldsen had carved it, he was offered a great deal of money to carve a statue of Venus.  His answer was “The hand that carved the form of Christ can never carve the form of a heathen goddess.” What is true in Corinth is true for the Christian today.  He who has handled the sacred things of Christ cannot soil his soul with things that God calls wickedness.

Idolatry was the sin the apostle Paul often contended with.  The word “idolatry” (eidoloatrisa) means both the worship of false gods and the failure to have a right relationship with God.”  In practical terms, an idol is anything that consumes a person’s mind, heart and soul and body.  It is whatever gets your extra money, time, adoration and strength.  Anyone who is not working on the principal of stewardship is easily drawn into idolatry.  The Christian who understands the principal of stewardship will exercise his gifts, and manage everything given to him in a manner that reflects an awareness that he will be  giving an accounting to God.  The modern day things that can become idols if not kept in proper perspective are self, family, possessions, business, sports, religion, sex, knowledge, and power.  Not keeping these in there proper place, can cause a person to touch the Holy Things of God with unholy hands.  One must be in proper relationship with God, Christ and in fellowship with the Holy Spirit before partaking in Communion.

It is always important to dwell on the fact that we serve a merciful God who mercies are fresh and new every morning.  After a good healthy Holy Spirit examination of the heart a Christian may partake in Communion. Paul teaches that the cup of blessing brings us spiritually into participation in the blood of Christ and into fellowship with Him.   Partaking in Communion is  not only being obedient to the Lord, it is a privilege that proclaims the Lords death until He comes.

Communion Not To Be A Religious Ritual

As you are partaking in Communion, one attitude of your heart should be a proclamation of a solemn oath that you are set apart unto the Lord.  Just as food and drink are necessary for sustaining the body, observing Communion is good for spiritual health. The prince of preachers, Charles Spurgeon, wrote in his exposition of Psalm 116 the heart of the today’s message.  He wrote, “Personal love fostered by a personal experience of redemption is the theme of this psalm.  In it we see the redeemed answered when they pray, protected in times of trouble, resting in their God, and walking at large sensible of their obligations.  They are conscious that they are not their own but purchased with a price, and joining with all the ransomed company to sing hallelujahs unto God.”

Walter B. Knight wrote about an elderly Scottish woman who lived alone and was asked, “What do you do all day?”   The elderly Scotch women said, “Well, I get my hymn book and sing.  Then I get the Bible and let the Lord speak to me.  When I get tired of reading and singing, I just sit still and let the Lord love me.”

Too often we have let Communion become a religious ritual, thus forgetting how much God and Christ love us.  Therefore we miss out on the joy that is available to us.  Let the Holy Spirit place so deeply in your hearts that which was in the heart of Jeremiah, “Because of the LORD’S great love we are not consumed, for his compassion’s never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”  (Jeremiah 3:22-24)

Let Us Pray!

Spiritual Heart Checks

Four Signs of a Healthy Christian

Rick Warren wrote, “The key for churches in the 21st Century will be church health, not growth.”   When a congregation is healthy, it will grow spiritually and enjoy the benefits of a live, vibrant relationship with Jesus Christ.  A healthy Christian will not find his strength or determine his weakness in the size of the church he attends.

What are four signs that the child of God lives a life that is nourished by the Word of God and illuminated by the Holy Spirit? Acts 2:42, They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”  These Holy Spirit filled believers devoted themselves to these four things.

Life expressions of a Holy Spirit led child of God   

Today’s text gives the first look at the early church and gives us a look at the results of a Holy Spirit revived heart.  These Scriptures should prick at the heart of the modern day church and serve as a key guide for examining ourselves.  All healthy things show signs of life.  If the child of God is not growing spiritually in any or all of these four areas, that Christian is dying.   A church will only be as healthy as those who attend her.  Therefore it is a necessity that those who are part of the Body of Christ get a fair evaluation of their spiritual condition.

I would propose to you that a healthy church begins with a consuming passion for the Lord Jesus Christ.  The early church at Pentecost received the Word gladly, continued steadfastly, enjoyed Christian fellowship and was a praying church.  These are the life expressions of a Holy Spirit led child of God. It must be noted that today’s text does not hold the complete list to everything a born again Christian does.  However, it contains seeds that determine how much spiritual life is birthed forth in all the other activities the child of God applies himself to.

Devotes himself to the apostle’s teachings

A key sign of a healthy Christian is that he devotes himself to the apostle’s teachings.  The New American Standard Bible says,     “…they were continually devoting themselves to the apostle’s teachings.” (Acts 2:42)    Devoted (proskarteroutes) means to continue,   persevere, stick to and persist.

The Christian surrendered to the Holy Spirit will not quit, back off from truth, fade away or slip back.  He steadfastly stays in true Biblical teaching.  He is diligent and constant in attendance to the proclaiming and teaching of the Word of God.  The on fire child of God makes a conscious hearing of the Word of God and he surrenders to the Holy Spirit’s prompting to obey it. The mark of a true church is not the size and beauty of her buildings.  It is not the number who attend or how modern the sanctuary looks.  The important issue is whether it holds to the apostle’s doctrine.  Born again Christians have a teachable spirit and a hunger to learn more and more of God’s will for them by pain staking study and listening to the Word of God.

Albert Barnes wrote, “One of the evidences of conversion is a desire to be instructed in the doctrines and duties of [Christianity] and a willingness to attend the preaching and teaching of [God’s Word].  Christians are hungry for Holy Spirit inspired teachings and they will make time to be exposed to it.”

The Christian who is devoted to the teaching of the Word of God goes to church and Bible studies, prayerfully reads his Bible, watches quality Christian programs, listens to Christian music and takes every opportunity possible to fill his eyes, mind and heart with things of God.  There is an eagerness of mind and openness of heart to seek and hear what God’s will is for him.  The child of God who is devoted to the teachings of God’s Word will place himself in the position where He can be lead by the Holy Spirit.  He walks into church with anticipation and expectancy that the Lord has something specifically for him.   These Christians are far apart from church attendees who walk out of church unmoved, critical and unfed because they refuse to eat from the table prepared for them.

Christians who are devoted to the teaching of the Word of God are like the Bereans that you read about in Acts 17:11.  They were of more noble character than the Thessalonians for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” Luke gave the Jews at Berea undying fame by characterizing them as being “more noble” than the Thessalonians.  They tested what Paul said to the truths of what we call the Old Testament.  Rather than judge what he said by political and cultural consideration, they were captivated by what he said as it agreed with the Word of the law. Once again the New American Standard Bible has the best translation with;    “more noble minded,” (eguenes) meaning to be generous in giving attention.

In his research on the Berean church, Dr. J. Vernon McGee discovered that the Berean church was a persecuted church.  He also notes that even though the Bible says very little about the Berean church, Scripture presents her as of having noble character. In others words very pleasing to God. I have discovered that Christians and ministries that become the most beneficial to me are those who are daily, prayerful readers and studiers of the Word of God.  They have withstood the test of time and they grow spiritually in the test of trials. The Bereans “…received the message with great eagerness…” (prothumia)    The King James Bible says, “readiness of mind,”     meaning to listen attentively and respectfully…”  They were willing to hear it, they could comprehend it, and they had hearts hungry to know God’s will for them.

Solomon in writing to those who would listen wrote, “Guard your steps when you go to the house of God.  Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong.”   (Ecclesiastes 5:1) There are some real questions that need to be answered as the Holy Spirit brings you through the first spiritual health check today.  Can those who see your life say, “There goes a Berean?  There goes a man or woman of God that has high regard for the truth and one who lives out a life of devotion to the Lord.”

A healthy Christian has true fellowship

Another sign of a healthy Christian is fellowship with other Christians.  “Fellowship” (koingnial) means to share in something which involves participation.  Mel Lawrenz gives this definition, “It has various translations such as “fellowship,” “participation,” “sharing,” “partnership,” and “communion.”  The practical application is sharing material goods, sharing ministry, and being partners in the gospel. All these are rooted in the spiritual reality of a connection between believers that is based on their connection to Christ.   This fellowship is literally brought forth by the Holy Spirit of God. Christians not only devoted themselves to the apostle’s teachings, but united in the work of spreading the gospel. Christians in true service are united in feelings, interest, in dangers, in conflicts, in opinions and in the hopes of blessedness that comes in serving Jesus Christ.  They have a joined life in sharing blessings and gifts bearing each others burdens, sharing in the conflicts that come and the victories that are won in fulfilling the Great Commission.

The Sunday School Times ran the story about Christians bearing each others burdens in their living to the Lord Jesus.  In one section of China, there were several missionaries working together.  When they held services one man would attend regularly, showing much evidence that the Holy Spirit of Christ was doing a great work in his life.  One day he confessed that he was a Christian and that he no longer worshiped his ancestors in the usual manner. This occurred at the New Year time when he was supposed to perform the usual rites of burning paper and incense to his ancestors.  When he refused he was given fifteen days to recant or be beaten with 1,000 stripes.  As the fifteen days drew near, a Christian from a different Chinese clan went to talk to the head of the clan of the sentenced man whom was about to receive the 1,000 stripes. The Christian explained, “When a person becomes a believer and worshiper of Jesus Christ, they become a part of the family of God.  We cannot stand by and watch our brother in Christ beaten, so we propose that if you insist in carrying out this sentence, we will all join in with him and take our share of those stripes.” The head of the clan knew that there would be great trouble if a member of one clan would beat a member of another clan.  He said, “If we would have understood the sharing of the burdens of Christians, such a verdict would never have been passed.”  Thus, the Christian man nor his Christian brothers or sister had to take one stripe.

A healthy Christian has true fellowship because he shares Spiritual experiences with other soldiers of Christ.  This builds faith and trust.  Through their Christian service they have shared material possessions together. (Acts 2:45)  They worship together. (Act 2:46-47) The church is not to become a social club where people are just nice to one another.  1 Peter 2:4-5 says, “As you come to Him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to Him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

The Lord knows to be a healthy Christian you need Biblical fellowship.  The fact is, going to church does not make you a Christian, and you can be a Christian and not attend a church.  However, it is impossible for you to grow mature in the faith without Christian fellowship.

A young fellow who was fed up with church went to see this wise old Christian in his cabin to get some advice. He told him all the things that were bothering him about church, and how he felt that he would be better off without the company of other Christians. As he was speaking, the old man silently took the fire tongs and removed a red-hot glowing coal from the middle of the fire and set it on the hearth. The coal glowed for a while, but eventually dimmed and turned black. He let it sit there a while and then took the tongs and places the coal back in the middle of the fire. Within seconds the coal was glowing red hot once again. The young man took the wordless lesson and left determined to stay with church and become an active member. Just as coals soon burn out when they are removed from the company of other coals, we will not last long in the faith unless we are working closely with what other Christians are doing in the local church.  A healthy Christian exercises his Spiritual gift to help make a special outreach, project or ministry become successful.  It may be prayer, giving, encouraging, administrating or applying hands on work.  The fact is he will be doing something.   It must be noted, that he will not be a part of everything going on in the church.

Listen to what the Bible says: Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!  Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)    Proverbs 27:17 says, As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.     Vance Havner pointed out, “Snowflakes are frail, but if enough of them get together they can stop traffic, shut down airports and cites, and take lives.”  You get enough Christians who are devoted to the Word of God and living in Biblical fellowship, there is nothing God cannot do with them in accordance with His will.

Observes the “breaking of bread”

A healthy Christian will have fellowship with his Christian family and with the body of Christ.  He also observes the “breaking of bread.”

A healthy Christian steadfastly remembers the Cross of Calvary with other believers in obedience to the ordinance given by Jesus Christ.  Psalm 77:11-12 says, I will remember the deeds of the LORD, yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds.”  The greatest deed ever done for sinners was when Jesus Christ allowed all the sins of the world to be laid upon Him and when He gave His life on the Cross.

Communion is to be observed very often in remembrance of Jesus Christ. The bread is in remembrance that His Body was given for us and the cup is for remembering that His blood was shed for us.  Because of what Christ has done, Christians have been reconciled to God and can have fellowship with Him. When the child of God meditates upon all that Jesus has done, can and will do for them, there is nothing that can rob his heart of wanting to observe communion so he makes effort to be were communion is being served.  He also continually asks God to search his heart so that nothing will keep him from enjoying the breaking of bread with his brothers and sisters in Christ.

1 Corinthians 11:28 says;   “A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup.”  He remembers what he was before Christ came into His heart and life and he rejoices over what the cleansing blood of Jesus has purchased for him right now.

A powerful ruler built a great palace.  Among the rooms was one that was always locked. He called it the Chamber of Memories. Every day he visited that room, but no one else was permitted inside. Finally one day the servants got a peep inside the locked room. There was no silver, no gold, no precious jewels. All they saw was a humble shepherd’s robe; the one the king had worn before he came to the throne.

The Lord’s Supper reminds a healthy Christian what he was and that it was his sin that put Jesus on the Cross.  A healthy Christian is like the Apostle Paul who wrote, For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.  (1 Corinthians 2:2) A healthy Christian will strive to make decisions and live a life that revolves around the fact that he is not his own, he was purchased with the highest price that can be paid for the redemption of sinful man.  Because of that price paid, the child of God will choose to attend a Bible believing church that spreads the gospel message, avoids watered downed theology and false doctrines.  That is why we make time for the Holy Spirit to examine hearts before we serve Communion in this church.

Devotes himself to prayer

A healthy Christian partakes regularly in the Lord’s Supper and devotes himself to prayer.

Without the power of God there can be no lasting work done for Christ.  A healthy Christian knows that if the church is too busy to pray there will be a great amount of activity with little accomplished, many services but few conversions, many programs with little life changing results.  This is why the apostle Paul wrote,I urge you brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me …”  (Romans 15:30)  The child of God faces many trials, many obstacles and even spiritual perils as he walks with the Lord down here.

Watchman Nee wrote, “Our prayers lay the track on which God’s power can come. Like a mighty locomotive, his power is irresistible, but it cannot reach us without rails.” Prayer is like art or music.  It can only be enjoyed by and through those who have disciplined themselves to actually spend time in prayer.  An artist or musicians cannot fully reach his full potential unless he learns about and spends time developing his gift.  Most people enjoy the benefits of looking upon art work that has had much time and hard work put into it.  All mature adults appreciate the benefits of listening to a musician that has put a great deal of time and energy into their music.  So it is with prayer.   It is those who spend time in prayer individually, corporately and continually who bless those for whom they have been praying.

Corrie Ten Boon expressed the life of being a vibrant Christian and she asks, “Is prayer a steering wheel or your spare tire? Christians are to use prayer for seeking God’s will, grace and empowerment.  It is not to be used as a spare tire or as a tool to order the Lord around.  The prayer that blesses God is the one offered according to His will and purposes.

The Bible says, Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” (Colossians 4:2)  (James 5:16b)  “…be faithful in prayer…” (Romans 12:12)  “…Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and request…”  (Ephesians 6:18)  And there is God’s promise about prayer, The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”

What does it mean to be devoted to prayer? If it means anything else it means to be regular and often in prayer. It means to have a lifestyle in which prayer is an integral part.  When I say that he is a devoted father or she is a devoted student what do we mean?  It means that you can expect the man who is head of his family to get done what ever needs to be done.  It is in his power to be a father to his kids.  It means a devoted student is going to do what needs to be done in order to be seen as a student worth investing time and money on. A healthy Christian’s life is not limited to prayer, but is devoted to prayer.  Saying that someone is devoted to their family does not mean that family is all they have or all they do.  It does mean that their life, their habits, their attitudes gives evidence of a life devoted to their family.  They provide a home, they are together at important family gatherings, and support one another in family tragedies.  A praying Christian may be busy with life situations, but as the Holy Spirit moves him, he takes a moment to pray, he makes time to pray in one accord with other believers for important church issues, and he his most certainly seeking the Lord’ grace, peace and comfort in times of tragedy.

The Christian Index ran the story of a black man who was in service to General Stonewall Jackson.  Many noticed that he was able to discern whenever the General was about to start another expedition.  When asked how he knew, the black man said. “Mr. Jackson prays every night and every morning.  But when he prays two to three or four hours during the night, that is when I pack his baggage, I know we are going on an expedition.” A healthy Christian prays regularly, faithfully and wholeheartedly.  But when his church is about to go out on another expedition for the Lord, he arranges extra time to be in prayer.

For a heart check, do people expect to see you in prayer?  What do you fast from to spend more time in prayer as the Lord leads the leadership of your church out in expeditions?  Can those who are closest to you see that you are about to go out with the Lord to do His work by the amount of time you spend in prayer? Today’s text is recorded history of when the Holy Spirit was doing a work in the lives of those who have surrendered their hearts over to Jesus Christ.  The same Holy Spirit is at work today in lives of those who understand that Jesus is much more than just Savior, He is Lord.  Where there is a surrendered heart to the Lordship of Christ there are healthy Christians exhibiting these four signs.  A life devoted to the teachings of God’s Word, Christian fellowship, observance of Communion, and Prayer.

Conquered at the Cross

Grasping Kingdom Authority in the Cross of Christ

 “But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!  Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification.  For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.  Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men.  For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.” (Romans 5:15-19)

“Grasping Kingdom Authority” 

In grasping our authority in Christ there are six key topics that must be addressed, the first being “Grasping Kingdom Authority.”  On this topic we have had our “Enemies Exposed,” come to realize that “A Battle Rages,” discovered “Surviving Satan’s Realm,” and today “Conquered at the Cross.” Christians who grasp their authority in Christ base their guidelines for living on the truth.  At the present time we live in a sin cursed world, therefore, sinners are saved by grace.  They have Holy Spirit illumination of Ephesians 2:4-5,But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ… it is by grace you have been saved.” 

Living in a sin trodden world has great dangers which are understood by those who live victoriously in Christ.   These Christians understand the sin principle and how it slowly creeps in undetected until it makes its public announcement, destroys a person’s effectiveness, and causes destruction to all who are associated with that person’s life.  Learning what happened to Ephesus gives us a clear picture of how sin births its destructive power. Ephesus was often mentioned in the New Testament. (Acts 18:19-21; 19:1, 17-10; 20:16; 1 Corinthians 15:32; 16:8; 1 Timothy 1:3; 2 Timothy 1:18; 4:12; Revelation 1:11 and 2:1)  Located at the mouth of the Cayster River, it was noted for its bustling harbors, broad avenues, gymnasiums, baths, huge amphitheater, and especially its magnificent Temple of Diana.  In her day she was one of the cultural and commercial centers of western Asia Minor. (The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia)

Ephesus was a real city that represented that place where mankind could fill his flesh with Satan’s lies, enjoy false worship and feed upon all that this world system has to offer.  A place that needed to hear the gospel and, thank God, they got to hear the gospel proclaimed. (Acts 18:18-27)  There were disciples of Christ there who received the Holy Spirit of Christ (Acts 19:1-10) thus bringing into that region a true church that was faithful in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 1:1)

Although there was a great representation of the church of Christ working in Ephesus she eventually came to ruin. (The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia; The New International Dictionary of the Bible; Wikipedia Encyclopedia)   As we see God dealing with cities and nations who deny Him or turn from Him we would think that Ephesus would have been overcome by plagues, destroyed by enemies or demolished by earthquakes.  However, according to an article published in “Our Daily Bread” (September 24, 1998) Ephesus’ downfall was silent and non-violent. Silt was the reason for the gradual decline of the flourishing metropolis of Ephesus.  Over the years, fine sedimentary particles slowly filled up the harbor, separating the city from the economic life of the sea traders. (10,000 Sermon Illustrations)  What happened to Ephesus is symbolic of what happens to the soul of mankind.

Let the Holy Spirit place this truth deep within your heart.  Little evil practices and small acts of disobedience may seem harmless.  However, Christians who let the silt of sin gradually accumulate will find themselves far from the Lord.  Spiritual life will come to ruin.  This is why the Holy Spirit moved the writer of Hebrews not to be hardened by sin’s deceit. (Hebrews 3:13)  Christians who grasp their authority in Christ do not let sin accumulate in their lives.  They lay those sins at the foot of the Cross. I would propose to you that God has gloriously given us kingdom authority.  Even though the first Adam legally lost it, the second Adam, the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ righteously regained what was lost by Adam.   How did Adam enable sin to come upon all of mankind?  What did the blood of Christ purchase for those who come to Christ?

Understanding authority lost

The first step toward enjoying Kingdom Authority is to gain some understanding of what authority was lost by Adam and Eve’s sin.  Genesis 1:26-28 says, Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’  So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’” 

Catch the original intent, “Let us make man in our image, in our own likeness.” (Genesis 1:26)  The three persons of the Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, consulted about it and agreed, because mankind was meant to be dedicated and devoted to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Solomon makes a definite allusion to the original state of man in Ecclesiastes 7:12, This only have I found:  God made mankind upright, but men have gone in search of many schemes.” (Barnes Notes; The New Bible Commentary; A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory; The Pulpit Commentary; The New American Commentary)  The Hebrew word, “upright” (yasar) quite often means right in an ethical or emotional sense, as agreeable or pleasing.  A Biblical example of this is found in that familiar phrase “right in God’s sight.” (The Complete Word Study of the Old Testament)

Originally, before the fall of man through Adam, mankind had habitual conformity of all his natural abilities to be able to walk in the whole will of God.  He understood divine truths and there were no mistakes in his knowledge of God’s perfect will.  There was a readiness to walk in the will of God without reluctance or resistance.  His affections were regular and his thoughts were fixed on the Lord’s best.   Thus was the holiness and blessedness of Adam and Eve.   Before the schemes of mankind and the questioning of God’s best, man had every opportunity to know and walk in the full counsel of God.  There was a day in the original setting when mankind knew the sound of the Lord walking through the Garden of Eden. (Genesis 3:8) In the original setting man enjoyed authority over all of creation.  God in His wisdom, knowledge of the weakness of man created mankind last of all the creatures, so he might not be suspected to be God’s helper.

Therefore, it was the great favor of God and should had been considered by Eve and Adam to have been a great privilege for them to make sure things stayed in proper order.  Christians who enjoy their authority in Christ have the same revelation and illumination as King David when he wrote, O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!  …what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?  You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.  You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet: all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.” (Psalm 8:1, 4-8)

This God given authority gave Adam and Eve divine knowledge and ability to govern agriculture, science, animal husbandry, literally everything on the earth.  It was unlike today when different people need to work hard and long to learn how to keep this earth productive.  They knew it all and all creation responded to that authority.  Adam and Eve before the fall did not have to worry about the mouth of the lion or the paw of the bear as David did while shepherding sheep.  They were not concerned about being bitten by snakes, killed by bulls, or otherwise injured by God’s creatures.  They did not have to build tornado shelters or fear earthquakes. Fires and flash flooding did not exist. In original creation God used man as His representative.  The Lord’s commission for mankind was to fill the earth with people and to subdue everything upon it.  Subdue means taming and caring for the earth so it could continue to be of profitable use. (Tyndale Concise Bible Commentary)  Adam’s rule was to be like that of God for the Trinity’s own good, not for his own pleasure.  Self pleasure is what caused Eve to be misled by the devil and Adam to heed his wife’s enticements.

This Godly character working through man is elsewhere found in the Word of God. Proverbs 12:10 says, A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal… and Proverbs 27:23 says, Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds…” Let the Holy Spirit of Christ place this truth deep into your spiritual heart.  As originally created, man enjoyed fellowship with God and had authority to exercise God given knowledge to care for everything in this world.  He literally enjoyed heaven on earth.

Adam, broke a special covenant with the Lord

In original creation mankind walked in true fellowship with God, but mankind, Adam, broke a special covenant with the Lord.  Genesis 2:15-17 says, “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.  And the LORD God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.’

Our key text today is a “Covenant of Works” (Easton’s Bible Dictionary)  of which Christ redeemed the negative consequence of Adam’s willful choices.  This covenant is between two parties, God, the moral governor and Adam, a free moral agent and representative of all his natural future generations.  The condition lay before Adam was perfect obedience to the law given at that time with the test being that he abstain from eating the fruit of the “tree of knowledge.” The penalty was spiritual and physical death, the consequences we all live with today. (Easton’s Bible Dictionary; The New International Dictionary of the Bible) The Lord gave Adam a job and a warning along with the privilege of plenty of food, wonderful surroundings, and the enjoyment of God’s fellowship.  Yet Adam and his wife just had to have the forbidden fruit, willfully breaking the covenant. (Willmington’s Bible Handbook -7)

The word “covenant” in the Bible is God’s revelation of Himself in the way of promise or of favor to men. (Genesis 9:8-11; Jeremiah 33:20; Easton’s Bible Commentary) There is the Biblical account of God’s covenant with Abraham. (Genesis 17:2)   There is the Old Testament covenant of the priesthood that carries on through the 1,000 year reign of Christ. (Numbers 25:12; 1 Peter 2:5,9; Revelation 20:6) Those whom Christ lives in and through are priests unto the gospel only because of Jesus’ eternal priesthood which is superior to all priesthoods. (The New International Dictionary of the Bible; Hebrews chapter 7; The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia)

What the Holy Spirit wants to you grasp in the whole counsel of God’s Word is that God has a “covenant,” through Christ Jesus which has the promise of eternal life to all who come in repentance.   Our key text today speaks clearly of Adam breaking God’s covenant thus bringing physical and spiritual death to all of mankind.  Listen to this Biblical discourse between God and Adam, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, `You must not eat of it.’  Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.  It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” (Genesis 3:17-19)

Reverent fear of willfully breaking God’s covenant

Christians who grasp their authority in Christ understand that God has a covenant that leads to enjoyment of the promises and favors of the Lord.  They also live in reverent fear of willfully breaking God’s covenant.  Romans 1 says, The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.  For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–His eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.  For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened…  Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts…  Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts…   Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, He gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done.  They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. (Romans 1:18-29)

Adam had the opportunity to enjoy the promises and favors of God.  What Jesus did on the Cross restored the covenant with God, therefore, all of mankind has the opportunity to know all that God has made clear in the Bible. Because of the danger of being surrendered to a depraved mind, Christians who enjoy their authority in Christ are aware of the signs of living in the sinful flesh.  They are:

  • alienation from God, Christ and lacking Holy Spirit sensitivity (Ephesians 4:18)
  • spiritual blindness (John 12:40; 2 Corinthians 4:4; 1 John 2:11)
  • continual thoughts of ways to satisfy the sinful nature (Romans 6:6)
  • a life that continually produces bad fruit (Matthew 7:17)
  • claiming to be a Christian yet controlled by the flesh, the world, and the lies of the devil (1 John 1-6-7)
  • deception by passion and pleasure causing foolish living and disobedience to Biblical authority (Titus 3:3)
  • after having been set free by knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ only once more enslaved and in worse shape than before. (2 Peter 2:20)
  • friendship with the world’s views and questioning God’s Word. (James 4:4)
  • choosing to live in the world and avoid the truths of God and the fellowship of true believers. (John 3:20-21; 2 Timothy 2:4)
  • resisting the Holy Spirit’s urging to do what is right and to repent, turn from all that is heart-breaking to the Lord. (Acts 7:51)

Christians who grasp “Kingdom Authority” place themselves under the shed blood of Christ

Breaking the blood purchased covenant with God leads to a depraved mind, keeping the unrepentant from the perfect will of God.    Christians who grasp “Kingdom Authority” place themselves under the shed blood of Christ.  Hebrews 9:22 says, In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” The blood of Christ is the ratification of the covenant of grace that is offered to all who accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and Lord.  Adam legally destroyed the covenant of life spiritually and physically, however, the Lord Jesus Christ righteously regained everything Adam lost by giving His life upon the Cross of Calvary.

The first covenant was dependent on man’s keeping the law; as soon as Adam willfully turned away from God’s revealed will for him the old covenant became ineffective.  Let us remember the new covenant inaugurated by Jesus Christ at the Lord’s Supper.  Jesus said, This is the new covenant in my blood, do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” (1 Corinthians 11:25)   There are many truths to grasp as the children of God partake in the covenant under the blood of Christ.

The first is grasping Christ as the Mediator of this new covenant.  Hebrews 9:15 says, For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance–now that He has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.” A mediator (mesites) is one who mediates between two parties.  Ascribed to Christ He is the one who actually unites repentant sinners with God thus bringing peace between God and men who come to Christ for forgiveness.  (The Complete Word Study of the New Testament; Practical Word Studies of the New Testament)

Jesus is the Mediator chosen by God because He is perfect and without sin.  He is the one able to present the terms of the new covenant perfectly.  Our Lord is the mediator who is able to please God because He is both Divine and human, proven pure and holy to His Father through obedience and His sufferings.  He is infinite in wisdom and knowledge and power to direct all things. (Matthew 28:18; John 5:22, 25-27)  Through a relationship with Christ Christians can know the perfect will of God for them and be enabled by the Holy Spirit to live out Christ joyously and achieve all the Lord has for them. Because God is holy, He can enable you to be holy devoted to Him. (1 Peter 1:16)  When you suffer in the work of God you are enabled to keep going because of the power of God.  (2 Timothy 1:8-9)  When revelation of sacrificial service is given to you, Christ sends the Holy Spirit to provide the Spiritual gifts to be exercised sacrificially for the edification of the Body of Christ. (1 Corinthians 12-14)

The Sunday School Times ran the true story of some kids who had illumination of living a life of holiness expressed through sacrificial love.  “In 1945 some English children sent new toys to children in India.  After receiving the gifts, a missionary challenged the children from India to bring their old toys to church so they can be taken to some children in a nearby village, who had never heard of Christ and didn’t know about Christmas. The following Sunday the gifts were received and to the surprise of the missionary, the children gave their new toys and kept the old ones.  When asked why, a little girl said, ‘When we think of what God and Christ did for us, we could not give less than our best in His name.’”  (Knights Master Book of 4,000 Illustrations)

Christ is able accomplish this in His people because being human He became a faithful, merciful high priest. (Hebrews 2:17) Having suffered, He is able to help us when we suffer, (Hebrews 2:18) Being sinless when tempted He is able to help us overcome temptation and sympathize with our weaknesses. (Hebrew 4:15)  Because of His temptations, sufferings and faithfulness we can approach the Throne of God with confidence expecting mercy and enjoying the Lord’s grace in our times of need.  (Hebrews 4:16) Because of His glorified humanity He is able to be the Head of the true church.

Christ’s death on the Cross made Him the perfect mediator and His shed blood offers the repentant forgiveness of sin. Hebrews 10:16-17 says, This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord.  I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds… Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.”  Hebrews 10:15 says, “The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this.” The Holy Spirit takes the written Word of God and puts it firmly on the hard drive of our minds while placing God’s truths firmly in our hearts.

“In August 1987 I placed my sins at the foot of the Cross and invited the Lord Jesus Christ to come into my heart.  At that moment the Holy Spirit placed deep within my spiritual heart that I was forgiven and I had a fresh clean start before God.  I thank God that no one was there, it was just me and the Holy Spirit of Christ as I drove down interstate 70, just 10 miles west of Salina, Ks. I started attending this church the following Sunday after my new life in Christ started.  Within three weeks of attending this church, a wife appointed elder of this church, who now no longer attends there, met me out front on a Sunday morning as I was coming into church and said, ‘You will never last, you will quit living for the Lord.’  After having the Lord to continue to do a work in me for nearly 20 years and after being in the ministry for 5 years, I had a man who had 5 plus years Bible college training send his wife to inform me that he had been hearing about my past, before Christ – indicating that I was unfit to be in ministry. Either one of those two incidents involving people claiming to be in the service of Christ could have destroyed my faith in what is often called the church structure.  Although both statements hurt deeply, neither of them crippled my walk with the Lord nor put a stop to God’s call on my life.  Why, because the Holy Spirit of Christ, who enables me to cry out ‘Abba, Father’ (Galatians 4:4-6) reminded me that I was adopted into the family of God, the day Christ came into my life.  The Holy Spirit reminds me often of those passages of Scripture that speak of God’s forgiveness and that He no longer holds my pass sins against me.”

Christians who “Grasp Their Authority in Christ” understand “Kingdom Authority.”  They have an adversary who is the accuser of the brethren, (Revelation 12:10) but because of the Cross of Calvary they have a Savior who is the Mediator who makes the way for them to approach the Throne of Grace with confidence. (Hebrews 4:16)  Their healthy relationship with Christ enables them to have standing with God who is merciful and gracious.  They are not shaken by accusers, but strengthened in the sure promise of forgiveness and empowerment to enjoy God’s best.

Christ’s purity enables Him to be our perfect Mediator.  Forgiveness found in Him brings true peace with God and opens the door to purification from sin.  1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” This is one of the most blessed passages of Scripture that can be read and meditated upon in the Word of God.  Christians get so blessed with the forgiveness of sin in this passage of Scripture they miss its enabling portion.  They miss the “purify us from all unrighteousness.”  “Purify” (katharizo) in the spiritual sense from the pollution and guilt of sin. (The Complete Word Study of the New Testament) The child of God who confesses or agrees with God on what sin is and desires to be set free from that sin will, in due time be delivered from the power and practice of that sin. (Matthew Henry Commentary; Commentary, Critical and Explanatory) This is accomplished by the presence of the Spirit and the sanctification or cleansing of the spiritual heart. (Hebrews 9:14)

Christians who enjoy their authority in Christ grasp the two sides of being purified by the blood of Christ.  The first is this:  the shed blood of Christ on the Cross delivers us from the guilt of sin and gives us a right standing or “justification” before God. This is because Jesus’ death for the sins of the world satisfied His holy law.  Secondly, the child of God needs the purifying work of the Holy Spirit of Christ.  King David knew this, for he prayed, Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew in me a steadfast spirit.  Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.  Restore in me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” (Psalm 51:10-12)

Listen to this true confession of a man who came to know Christ and who lives in the presence of the Holy Spirit of Christ.  He writes,   “I came to know Christ and was forgiven of sins that broke the heart of all who were close to me, but especially the heart of the Christ who died for me.  On the night of my salvation the Holy Spirit so confirmed the forgiveness of God, He placed within me a joy that burst forth in my speech and life. However, there was that besetting sin that came into my life daily.  At first I dismissed it, after all I am under the blood of Christ, a sinner saved by grace.  After all it is a sin that no one will find out about and does no harm to anyone. Yet within me there was that urging for purification from this sin that I committed daily. Then one day the Scriptures revealed to me what is most important to God, ‘Surely, you desire truth in the inner part…’ (Psalm 51:6)  At that moment it was clear to me that this daily sin was breaking the heart of my Lord who died for me. This is when I got serious.  I confessed my sin to my Christian wife and then to an elder of my local church.  Then I asked the question of questions which laid the groundwork for my ability to lay this sin at the foot of the Cross, ‘Lord just how ugly is this sin to you?’  In just a few months I had Holy Spirit revelation of how this sin was the base sin that caused the most grief to all I loved.  If not repented of and fully delivered, this sin would be the root sin that would cause me to join the many, those who sacrifice the Lord all over again and bring Him to public disgrace. (Hebrews 6:6) Upon this revelation, I laid this disgraceful act at the foot of the Cross, and over the course of time I have come to fully enjoy the authority that Christ had given me over my sinful nature, the world and Satan’s lies.  To this day I enjoy the continual mortifying of sin that comes between me and my Lord.  To this day I enjoy the forgiving, purifying blood of Christ.” (writer wants anonymity)

Let the Holy Spirit lay this truth deep within your spiritual heart, “’Grasping Your Authority in Christ’ begins with understanding that it was your sins that put Christ on the Cross, asking  the Lord show you what He thinks of your sin, and trusting in the eternal forgiveness and purifying power of the blood of Christ.” (Pastor Terry Laughlin)

All that Christ did on the Cross of Calvary conquered the effects of sin that Adam brought upon mankind.  With eyes focused on Christ and spiritual hearts led by the Holy Spirit of Christ, Christians live a victorious life. They are empowered to do sacrificial service to the Body of Christ and unto those without Christ, walk in the peace of God and enjoy the purifying work of the Holy Spirit of Christ.

Let us come and enjoy the Lord’s Supper, Communion.